With a team built to win after fielding too many teams built not to, the 2021 White Sox are ready to show their fans something good to see.
Granted, the 2020 Sox won as the rebuild came to fruition, but nobody was there to see at Guaranteed Rate Field because of the pandemic. But with close to one-fourth capacity permitted at the start of this season, baseball on the South Side will feel like more than a closed scrimmage.
“It’s going to be a great moment for everybody,” said rookie Andrew Vaughn, about to experience his first home opener when the Sox host the Royals at 3:10 p.m. Thursday. “We’re all ready to get back there and get in front of our fans and put on a good show for them and win some ballgames.”
Banged up with two of their most prolific hitters in Tim Anderson and Eloy Jimenez on the injured list as well as fourth outfielder Adam Engel — and Billy Hamilton leaving an unsightly 8-4 loss the Mariners in Seattle Wednesday — the Sox take a 3-4 record into town. Picked by some to reach the World Series, the Sox lost three of four to the Angels to open the season and owned a 3-1 lead Wednesday but blew it in a seven-run sixth inning.
Luis Robert made his major league debut in an empty ballpark last July. This home opener will feel like another debut.
“It’s going to be even better,” he said through translator Billy Russo, “having fans in the stands.
“When you play with fans, you feel more adrenaline. If you make a good play or hit a homer, you can feel that energy. I’m excited to have that experience with the fans in Chicago.”
Manager Tony La Russa returns to manage the Sox at home for the first time since 1986, when he was fired by general manager Ken Harrelson, and he said he’s been thinking about it a lot.
“Weddings and Opening Days, they don’t get old they just get better and better,” La Russa said. “The fact that it’s back in Chicago, on the South Side, I’m very excited and mostly we want to compete as good as we can so we can give the fans what they came to watch — which is we don’t play the bottom of the ninth.”